The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Characters

B. Traven

The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Traven uses his characters, Dobbs, Curtin, Howard, and even Lacaud, to represent different aspects of the human reaction to gold. He presents gold as a chimera that eventually destroys most who follow its lure. The first chapters of the novel present the world from Dobbs’s perspective. Although the reader initially views him as a sympathetic figure struggling to survive in an alien environment, Traven also presents many of his less admirable but very human characteristics, as he bullies waiters and other beggars, exerting fully the power that he gets from the money he has been given. He is not the noble worker of much proletarian fiction. While he may be, in fact, a victim of society, he is also a victim of his own behavior. Further evidence of his negative side appears when he first hears the story of La Mina Agua Verde; he suddenly feels the presence of a darker personality that had until this moment remained hidden. Although he is self-aware enough to recognize this warning, he is not self-controlled enough to heed it later. Once the three men set out on their quest, Dobbs becomes the most obviously influenced by fear and greed. When Howard and Curtin save his life, he quickly turns from gratitude to anger because he realizes that his death would have enriched them. Unable to accept their actions at face level, he suspects they too are acting on their greed, hatching some plot he does not yet understand. Dobbs projects his own feeling on those around him. In...

(The entire section is 496 words.)